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Dozens killed as fire guts mental hospital in Russia

- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2013

Nearly 40 are believed dead in a Friday fire that blazed through a psychiatric hospital in Russia, killing some patients as they slept and others as they tried desperately to push past the bars on the windows.

Most died in their sleep from smoke inhalation, one police official said to the Russian media outlet, RIA Novosti.

Firefighters were significantly delayed in obtaining access to the building, The Associated Press reported. Because of a closed river crossing, their response took an hour rather than 20 minutes, AP said.

When they did arrive, they found a small tunnel dug beneath, likely due to the patients' attempts to dig out, AP reported.

Two patients were led outside by a nurse, Reuters reported.

One source said 36 were killed; another, 38.

"According to preliminary reports, 38 people died, including two medical personnel," one Russian Health Ministry spokesman told AP.

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